Slow-growth candidates sweep Basalt elections | AspenTimes.com
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Slow-growth candidates sweep Basalt elections

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Three advocates for slow growth swept the Basalt Town Council election Tuesday.Amy Capron, Chris Seldin and Gary Tennenbaum each received at least twice as many votes as either of the other candidates, Garret Brandt and Joe Zuena. Capron received the most votes, 318. Seldin had 290, while Tennenbaum attracted 275. Brandt received 141 votes and Zuena 118.”We destroyed ’em,” Tennenbaum told a supporter by cell phone right after the release of the results at Town Hall.The three winners ran in a loose confederation and hammered the point of protecting Basalt’s small-town character. They are newcomers to Basalt politics, and all are between 33 and 35 years old. They repeatedly vowed during the campaign to preserve Basalt’s urban growth boundaries and be wary of annexing new developments into town.The two losing candidates were more open to considering annexations. While it was far-fetched to label Zuena and Brandt fast-growth proponents, they expressed more willingness to work with developers to coax good projects, even if it meant developing rural lands on the town’s fringe.Seldin said voters picked up on that message.”I think that there were differences between Amy, Gary and myself on the one hand, and Garret and Joe on the other,” Seldin said. “We clearly stated that our priorities were slower growth … and their positions, I think, were more pro-growth. I think this really shows where Basalt’s priorities lie.”Seldin said the election results indicate the results of a 2005 town survey were no fluke. In that poll, 72 percent of respondents said preserving Basalt’s small-town character was important. Among registered voters, 6 percent of survey respondents wanted no growth; 39 percent wanted a slower growth rate for the town; and 34 percent wanted it to be about the same.

The survey results, coupled with the election, send clear direction to Basalt’s political leaders, Seldin said.”I think it sends a message to the town [government] about what the citizens’ priorities are, especially if you consider these numbers. I think that’s a pretty clear mandate for the positions we took on the issues.”Zuena, appointed to the council late last year, said voters spoke clearly in the election. He wished the winners well in their efforts to carry out their plans.Brandt said he felt the winners articulated their positions well and “got the people that felt that way out to the polls better.” He said he didn’t feel his positions were all that different from those of the winners.Capron won with ease even though she spent the final days of the campaign in France. Her vacation was scheduled before her candidacy.Tennenbaum agreed that the election results provide clear direction, at least from voters. The election attracted 412 voters, according to town clerk Pam Schilling. That is about 20 percent of the 2,031 registered voters.

“They’re looking at us to protect Basalt’s small-town character, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Tennenbaum said. “This is such a cool opportunity.”When asked how he will react to annexation requests, Tennenbaum said he is a “big fan of urban growth boundaries” and grateful for the fact that the existing master plan has preserved the rural buffers.”I am going to work really hard to try to protect that rural buffer, protect our open space lands next door and work with developers to deal with affordable housing issues that we have in Basalt,” Tennenbaum said.Tennenbaum, Capron and Seldin will join Mayor Leroy Duroux and council members Glenn Rappaport, Laurie Dows and Mark Kittle. The four seated members generally have looked favorably on development.”I hope we can all work together as a unit,” Duroux said.Tennenbaum said he felt the newcomers could jell well with the seated board.”I think our enthusiasm will take hold of them to kind of make sure we all look at Basalt as a great place to live – let’s not screw it up,” Tennenbaum said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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